Inspecting church hired premises after use
After church premises have been used for an event, it is imperative that they are checked thoroughly, not simply for condition but to ensure that everyone has left the building. If no one from the parish is around to perform this task then responsibility for checking hired premises passes to the people using them. For legal reasons this fact needs to be spelt out clearly.
Additionally, if you’re planning to install or refurbish universal toilets then it’s worth asking your architect to think about incorporating a gap above or below the door to make it easier for the person locking up to check that no one is trapped there. It is also strongly advisable for doors of toilet cubicles to be capable of being opened from the outside in an emergency.
This may seem a trivial or even obvious assertion, but this instruction has its origin in a genuine tragedy. Negligence in this regard, following a private event in January at a parish hall in another diocese, led to the death of 73-year old man, by hypothermia. Had the premises been inspected his death could have been prevented. The coroner who reported on the death, understandably keen to ensure that this scenario is never repeated, has formally recommended issuing guidance on hiring out church premises.
What it boils down to is simple: hired premises need to be thoroughly checked before locking up.
This was written by Edmund Harris, formerly of the Parish Property Support Team.